This column includes a picture of my parents at their wedding reception. They were married in the Manti Temple the day before Thanksgiving 1952. The reception was held the following week in the Fontana, Calif., Latter-day Saint meetinghouse.
Here’s the thing: If you look really hard at the picture, you might catch a glimpse of me. See I was there, too. Mom was almost three months along with me when this picture was taken.
Note: Yeah, I asked her if I could reveal that personal fact. She says she made her peace with it a long time ago. And not that it’s any of your business, but her bishop apparently knew and still gave her a temple recommend.
It gets even better. One of the major advantages I have over most people is a clear memory of our premortal life. I apparently missed the step at which our memories got wiped before birth.
Argue all you want that it’s impossible for me to remember the War in Heaven, and I’ll argue that the stuff you claim to “know beyond the shadow of a doubt” is just as unlikely.
Anyway, I was minding my own business in the preexistence when the Birth Committee burst in to announce that I was leaving early. I barely had time to say “see you later” to Bammer and Sonny before I was hustled over to the Temporal Departure Terminal.
Informed that I was being rush-birthed to a couple who had gotten an early and forbidden start on a family, I said that since I had to go anyway, I didn’t care.
Birth president • “Well, just so it’s clear that you were technically conceived in sin.”
Me • “Really? You’re going with that? Get your judgmental butt out of my way.”
And just like that — accompanied by a bit of requisite screaming, of course — I was born.
Despite their “unworthy” premarital behavior, and all that crap about “rather my son or daughter come home dead than not a virgin,” my parents are still together 67 years later.
It wasn’t always easy. I gave them fits. But thanks to lots of tough love, stultifying church, family commitment and a strong lock on the trunk of the car, they managed to raise me more or less to adulthood.
Here’s the irony: About half my mother’s family members couldn’t attend her temple wedding because they weren’t spiritually up to par. My mother’s father was a recovered alcoholic who didn’t attend church. Her sister was a drug addict. Various cousins, aunts and uncles had other issues.
Conversely, my father’s ultra-worthy parents drove down from southern Idaho and attended the marriage with disapproval plainly stamped on their faces.
In their eyes, their youngest son and his California hussy had no business getting married in the house of the Lord. They should have gotten hitched somewhere befitting their substantially reduced status.
Therein lies the problem. For far too long in Mormonism, a temple marriage — like serving a mission — has been used as a social indicator of one’s spiritual standing, wherein judgment can be assessed.
Things finally are changing. After years of proclaiming “families are forever”(while simultaneously reminding folks that they almost certainly won’t be), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced that member couples now can marry civilly and not have to wait a year to be “sealed” in a temple.
Hooray. Now everyone can go to the wedding — including those of us who got an early start.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.